An Image I Grew Up With

Posted: March 3, 2014 in Catholic, Free Writing
Tags: , , ,

We all have little things that stay with us, long into our adult years. They are things that we close our eyes and remember and feel joyful and remember. For me, that image is Michelangelo’s Pieta.  Random right? I don’t know why, but it’s definitely my absolute favorite work of art.

I remember visiting my Grandparents in small town Nebraska as a little girl. I always got so excited to visit my grandparents because of how simple life was. Everybody in the town knew and loved each other. People went to church every Sunday and attended the high school football game on Friday. It was okay to show up to someone’s house unannounced, they would always have a baked good and a glass of water prepared.

One special treat I got to enjoy while visiting them was that I got to have Strawberry Toaster Strudels topped with frosting for breakfast. It was perfectly sweet with just enough crunch that went perfect with an ice cold glass of milk and apple slices. I never had them at home because they were on the super unhealthy side and I could not (and still can’t) eat them in moderation. I would wake up early and sit alone at the breakfast table while the grownups got dressed and ready for the day. In my Grandparent’s kitchen, there was a little indent in the wall where their was a crucifix and a rosary displayed, and a miniature replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

I remembering sitting at breakfast, facing the wall to look at the display and absolutely marveling at it. I thought it was the most beautiful statue in the world sitting right by my breakfast table.  I could’ve stared at the tiny statue forever if I could.  I loved Mary’s beautiful porcelain face mourning for her crucified son. If you looked really closely, it almost seems that Jesus was smiling as he laid in his mother’s arms.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized their was a full size version at the Vatican for viewers to see. I learned more about the incredible artist who created it, and about the damage done to it when it was attacked by a hammer during Pentecost Sunday in 1972, which made me feel absolutely sick.

Ironically, I joined a household at Franciscan University of Stuebenville that has an image of the Pieta on its wall of the common room. We have a small replica, very similar to the one my grandparents had, sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room, which used to belong to Franciscan’s former president, Father Michael Scanlon TOR, who is the man responsible for growing Franciscan to the university it is today. It sat in his room at the old friary until the new friary was built and he had left Franciscan. He gave the replica to Father Gregory, the household coordinator,  to give to a household who he thought would honor and venerate it.

Every once and a while, during rosary or Lord’s Day, I’ll find myself marveling at the image on the wall or at the tiny replica, admiring its detail and the beauty of the mother and son, remembering the days when I stumbled into the kitchen in my Winnie the Pooh pajamas to eat my breakfast.

In a matter of a few months, I’ll get to see it, live and in person. I’m not one to stand and marvel at a statue or a painting. I’ll glance and look it over, then move on. I don’t know how I’ll react. Maybe I’ll stand there and marvel at it until my group drags me away, or maybe I’ll walk by, take a few pictures, and move on. I don’t know.

I’m not sure where the little statue is that used to belong to my grandparents. It was packed away when my grandma moved out of her house. It could be in a box somewhere at one of my aunts and uncles houses. I never asked the story of where my grandma got it.  I’ll have to remember to when I see her at my cousin’s wedding this summer.

I do know that it’s an image that will reside with me for the rest of my life. It’s something that I want to have sitting in my house someday for my children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to marvel at. Maybe it’ll speak to them like it spoke to me as a little girl and now, as a college girl trying to get through midterms and anticipating studying abroad in Europe.

When I do see the real thing, I’ll let y’all know what I think…


More Info on the Pieta:

Anniversary of the 1972 attack on Michelangelo’s Pieta

The Making of the Pieta

 From Saint Peter’s Basilica


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